Feeling Blue

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LEWISTON – Sunni the bartender makes a specialty drink wherever she works, and at The Blue Elephant Lounge on Park Street she has named the house drink after the bar.

She delicately rolls the rims of three martini glasses with blue sugar, then pours her “Blue Elephants,” garnishing each colorful drink with a cherry.

“These are great,” says one of my friends, who is along to help with the beverage testing on this Wednesday night.

Sunni (pronounced sunny) won’t divulge her secret ingredients, but lets us know it’s a vodka-based drink that involves, among other things, a blue liquor and soda.

We agree there’s a distinct, cotton-candy finish that will please lots of sweet-drink fans.

And because it’s Ladies’ Night, the well drinks are half price, so an exotic cocktail or two are in order.

The bar is pretty empty, but Sunni said business is picking up since the opening eight weeks ago.

The most popular night is Thursday, College Night, when there’s a free shuttle for students and Pabst Blue Ribbon drafts are 50 cents with a college I.D. The deejay plays Top 40 and club music.

Early Wednesday, it’s mostly 80s music in the background – The Police, Duran Duran.

Sunni admits she loves 80s tunes, and she’s excited that Saturdays may soon become 80s night at the bar. There are still changes in the works for The Blue Elephant Lounge, she says. Karaoke may be offered Sundays, and the bar menu is expected to expand.

This reminds us of the rumors about the mother of one of the bar owners cooking Sri Lankan food in the kitchen, and we decide to order. Forgoing the standard fries ($1.75), mozzarella sticks ($2.50), chicken strips ($3.25) and the odd “serving of mixed olives” ($1.50), we opt for the Sri Lankan dahl ($4.50), chicken curry ($6.50) and pork stew ($6.50) cook Sitha Weerakkody has prepared for the night.

Each dish comes with rice and vegetables, including a spicy shredded-carrot salad. The food is light and the dahl – a dish traditionally made from lentils – is the spiciest item. There are no heavy or oily sauces so often associated with curries. Instead, the chicken has only a light curry covering with mild spiciness, and the pork stew is a similarly light dish, although the sauce is milder and tangy.

Everyone agrees we’ll be back as the menu expands, and Weerakkody, who has come to chat with us at the bar, says she soon hopes to add treats like sweet potato and pumpkin curries, caramel pudding and fruit salad with ice cream.

For a sampling of Sri Lankan cooking: Stop by in the afternoon or early evening during the week when there’s a small business crowd, and it’s quiet.

To live it up: Try a Thursday night when the dance floor (complete with mirrored panels along a nearby wall) is movin’ and PBR is oh-so-cheap.

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